African Carnivores Initiative

The Joint CMS-CITES African Carnivore Initiative (ACI)

The African Carnivores Initiative is an umbrella initiative that targets four iconic African carnivore species: the African Lion (Panthera leo), Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus), Leopard (Panthera pardus), and African Wild Dog (Lycaon pictus).

According to the most recent Red List Assessments of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), populations of African Lion (2016), Cheetah (2015), Leopard (2016) and African Wild Dog (2012) are in constant - and sometimes severe - decline across the African continent. The only exception to this is the lion population in Southern Africa, where there is a small increase.

The main reasons for their decline are similar for all four species and can be summarized as follows: 1) Habitat loss and fragmentation; 2) Conflict with humans; 3) Depletion of the prey base; and 4) Unsustainable or illegal trade practices.

Substantially increased conservation efforts focusing on these four species will be required to ensure the preservations of some of the most iconic carnivore species in Africa.

The added value of addressing the four iconic species together, and for joining forces of CMS and CITES in this effort, is expected to be multiple and to include:

  • increased conservation means for all four species by pooling funds and expertise;
  • more equitable deployment of resources amongst the four species;
  • avoidance of duplicative activities and associated costs;
  • coordinated and consolidated support to Range States in implementing conservation measures;
  • more effective and immediate conservation actions across the range of the four species;
  • synergetic and holistic conservation approaches; and
  • increased opportunities for donors to allocate resources to well-coordinated and internationally recognized conservation actions.

The CMS and CITES Conferences of Parties have adopted several resolutions and decisions concerning the four species which address various aspects of conservation and trade.

CITES Decision 17.241 on the African Lion (Panthera leo) explicitly calls for cooperation between the CITES Secretariat, the CMS Secretariat and IUCN, whereas CITES Decision 17.236 calls for cooperation with the CMS Secretariat and CITES Decision 17.237 for cooperation with the CMS Secretariat and IUCN.

Further information on the process relating to the development of the CITES decisions on the Lion, adopted at the 17th meeting of the CITES Conference of the Parties can be found in document UNEP/CMS/COP12/Doc.

The CITES and CMS Resolutions and Decisions related to the four species that are currently covered by the Initiative are the following:

  • CITES Decisions 17.241 – 17.245 on African Lion (Panthera leo)
  • CITES Decisions 17.114 – 17.117 on quotas for Leopard hunting trophies
  • CITES Decisions 17.124-17.130 on illegal trade in Cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus)
  • CITES Decisions 17.235 – 17.238 on African Wild Dog (Lycaon pictus)
  • CITES Resolution Conf. 10.14 (Rev. CoP16) on quotas for Leopard hunting trophies and skins for personal use,
  • CMS Resolution 12.28 on Concerted Actions
  • CMS Decisions 12.55 – 12.60 on the Joint CMS-CITES African Carnivores Initiative
  • CMS Decisions 12.61 – 12.66 on the Conservation and Management of Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) and African Wild Dog (Lycaon pictus)
  • CMS Decisions 12.67 – 12.70 on the Conservation and Management of the African Lion (Panthera leo)

In order to bring more coherence to the implementation of the above-mentioned resolutions and decisions relating to African carnivores, the Secretariats of both Conventions, in line with the Joint Programme of Work, decided to propose the establishment of a Joint CMS-CITES African Carnivores Initiative.

Under CMS Decision 12.56 on the Joint CMS-CITES African Carnivores Initiative, adopted by the 12th Conference of the Parties to CMS in 2017 in Manila, Range States are urged to work through the ACI to implement CMS and CITES decisions and resolutions relating to the four targeted species as a way to increase synergies between the two Conventions.

The Initiative will serve as a guiding mandate to implement future conservation of the 4 target species in the following ways:

  • develop concrete, coordinated and synergistic conservation programmes for all four carnivore species, with local and regional projects implemented across their African range;
  • develop policy guidance and recommendations for Range States, CITES and CMS concerning the four species; and
  • organize the collaboration with other conservation initiatives and organizations, such as IUCN.


Title Status Status date CMS Party number Region
Algeria Range State 094 Africa
Angola Range State 099 Africa
Benin Range State 021 Africa
Botswana Range State Africa
Burkina Faso Range State 030 Africa
Cameroon Range State 001 Africa
Central African Republic Range State 128 Africa
Chad Range State 051 Africa
Congo (Brazzaville) Range State 066 Africa
Côte d'Ivoire Range State 083 Africa
Democratic Republic of the Congo (Kinshasa) Range State 034 Africa
Djibouti Range State 087 Africa
Egypt Range State 001 Africa
Equatorial Guinea Range State 114 Africa
Eritrea Range State 089 Africa
Eswatini Range State 118 Africa
Gabon Range State 109 Africa
Gambia Range State 075 Africa
Ghana Range State 026 Africa
Guinea Range State 041 Africa
Instrument nameAfrican Carnivores Initiative
Website URL


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